Review: The Queen of the Tearling Series by Erika Johansen

queen tearling

**There maybe a few minor spoilers in this review**

First of all, our Cousin Sarah has good taste in books because I really enjoyed this series.  So thank you Sarah for the suggestion.  I’m sorry that I waited so long to read it.

One of the themes I got from this series is how past shapes our present and our future.  As someone who has a degree in history I really appreciate that.  The saying of “those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them” maybe cliche but it’s also true.  History is littered with examples of forgetting or  ignoring the past and then surprised when the results are the same.  Look about what is going on today.  Many of the same rhetoric that is being said on both side of the aisle have all been said before.  There have been so many correlation between what is currently going in the United States with what lead to other Countries descent into authoritarian regimes.  Agree or disagree that is the direction the US is going, one must be a little nervous with what they are seeing happening around our country.  Right now is the perfect time to look back at our past and see what we can learn.

invasion tearling The Tearling was founded by William Tear and his followers by leaving the United States that had fallen into Martial Law and extreme poverty.  They crossed the Atlantic and through a mysterious portal to land in the “New World” to start an utopian society where everyone was equal.  No one was more important then another but this was never truly the truth in practice, even from the beginning of their new colony.  William Tear always stood higher then everyone else even though he tried not too.  His opinion was enough to sway an issue to right or the left.  He was the King without the title.  You add the people’s unwillingness to talk about their pre-crossing life led to the downfall of the society after only one generation.  They failed to learn from their own past.  They felt that had moved beyond the troubles of their past but when things fell apart they resorted back into the old habits and fear that lead the downfall of the past and again fell part again.  Three hundred years later, Kelsea inherits a country with very little assets and has the traffic it’s own people to a neighboring country to survive.  The people are mostly illiterate and live in poverty.  The ideals of William Tear have long been forgotten.  Kelsea with the help of the Mace, try their best to right the wrongs of their past but with little army and even less of a treasury she is fighting an uphill battle.  Kelsea is not perfect herself.  She is young and inexperienced.  She has a temper on her that makes to make rash decisions.  She was also left in the dark about her own countries history, particularly the resent history that she has to learn about her people as she rules them.  She makes some great decisions but she also makes some terrible mistakes.  Which is important because it is sometimes to easy to make the protagonist to perfect.  It would be very easy to make Kelsea a saint, bringing her country back to it’s former glory but Erika Johansen doesn’t do that.  Nor does she give us the perfect happy ending either but I’ll get to that later.

fate tearling The Tearling is a curious place.  It takes place in the future but is clearly a Medieval  society.  They lost most of their medical supplies and doctors in the crossing and 300 later they still haven’t developed any technology.  They don’t even have a working printing press.  The Horror!  They do have a little bit of magic.  Kelsea also inherits two sapphires that give her abilities to see into the past and powers.  The ability to see into the past and the future help her but also make things a bit tense.  She starts to have visions of the past through two women who helped shape the early Tearling.  She sees how life was before the crossing and how the Tearling fell.  She struggles to figure out how the past is supposed to help her but she knows it’s important.  As her kingdom starts to fall apart and those who are most loyal are starting to question.  When she finally figures out what to do it’s ruthless and brave that runs head on into doing not knowing what the outcome will be.  In the end *spoiler* she does bring back William Tear’s vision for the New World even though it’s not how she imagined it.  It’s very bittersweet that accomplished what she set out to do, she righted all the inequality the country had suffered through but it left her a little alone in her victory.  Then again, who knows what the future will bring for Kelsea.  Maybe all we have to do is gleam into her past to see where Kelsea will go next.

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Very Quick Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

queen tearling It’s a rare thing for me to start a series after all the books have been released.  It’s kinda of thrilling to be able to read from beginning to end without having to wait years to finish.  So with that in mind, I’m going to one big review after I have completed the trilogy.  However I do have some thoughts.  Lately, we have seen how some dystopian and fantasy novels could be prophetic, this is kind of a terrifying thought.  The Tearling was founded by people escaping to the New World because the America we know had fallen in disrepair.  The gap between the rich and poor had widen so far that there was no middle class left.  Cities were nothing more then slums.  Food was scarce.  Martial law was enacted and women were forced out of the workforce to become mothers and housewives.  So they sailed across the ocean, to where we don’t know where, looking for better lives only to losing all our advancements in medicine and technology.  Basically the Tearling have traveled back to the Middle Ages and three centuries, Kelsea has inherited a Kingdom that is illiterate, sick, poor and at the Mercy of the Mortemense, the more powerful nation across the border.  The Mort is ruled by the Red Queen, who is just a mysterious as she is terrifying.  Kelsea, only 19 but is brave in her convictions.  She knows her life may be short but she still sets out to do what’s best for her people, even if it means going against the Red Queen and her more advanced army.  It is an intriguing start to the series and I’m already enjoying book two.

What I’m Still Reading Now: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

queen tearling

We are back from vacation and while that’s sad it also good to be home.  Surprisingly, We didn’t get to do much reading while away.  I know, strange.  We just were so busy that we had a chance to read, we were just too tired to do so.  So, yes I’m still reading Queen of the Tearling.

Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

song-rising**Spoilers.  I was lucky enough to get an Advance Copy of this book back in December.  Spoilers will happen in the review so be prepared.**

Well this is a game changer for the series.  We are getting to the Prisoner of Azakaban territory as we begin to expand the world and up the stakes.  Paige is now the Underqueen of the Unnatural Assembly but when Jaxon jumps over to the Rephaim side, she’s blindsided.  Not only does she have doubts about her abilities, her mentor is working with the enemies, giving them all of their secrets.  The Mime-Order’s partnership with the Ranthen is tenous at best.  She must first prove to the voyants that she is worthy to follow and to the Ranthen’s that she worthy to be funded.  After a disastrous mission to take down senshield, a device that can detect the auras of Voyants, Paige takes off to investigate leads in Manchester.  Trying to stay ahead of the evil military mastermind, Vance.  Nothing has been easy for Paige and that is definitely true but she really comes into her own.  Paige very much wants to what’s best for the voyant community and end Scion but she has to combat so many things.  She has to prove her worthiness to her people and to Ranthens.  Making things complicated is Jaxon, who many people still support and don’t believe that went over to the Scion.  Others see Paige’s youth as another drawback.  When Paige makes the mistake of acting on unproven intel and that makes sensheild even stronger, she has to move everyone underground.  Paige may not see it at the point but I think this was a pivotal point for her.  It proved her willingness to make the hard decisions but also it outsmarted her enemies.   Jaxon admits that even he couldn’t figure out where they disappeared too.  As the story plays out, we see more and more of cruelty of the Scion and how it’s not just the Rephaim who are committing it.  The introduction of Vance is an example of a human doing unspeakable things on other humans for advancement or for their own enjoyment.  It almost seemed like Vance sees her role as more of a game then anything else.  To me that makes her scarier then the Rephaim.  Samantha Shannon is getting better and better with each book.  It’s almost as a writer she is learning more about herself, as Paige is doing the same thing on the page.  The ending leaves as many answers as it does questions but also opens us to even more possibilities.  I will do my best wait patiently for book 4.

Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

fifth-season This was a very interesting book.  I can see why it won so many awards.  It is beautifully written and has a well crafted world that brings you in.  That being said, I did find it hard to get into at first.  I think it had to do with the sort of complicated world the characters inhabit and having three different narrators that seem to living in the same nation but not at the same time. As one is living at the end of the world, while the other two are not.  Once I was able to grasp that the timelines of the three narrators were different, it made it much easier to enjoy the storytelling.  The story begins as Essun, is mourning the loss of his son who was murdered by her husband for being an Orogene.  Orogenes are powerful beings that can derive power from the earth but are feared for this power because it’s unpredictable and can destroy as easily as it can save.  Damasaya is also an Orogene, who has been locked in her families barns after she was discovered.  And finally Syenite, a powerful orogene who has been given two different assignments that involve the most powerful orogene in the world.  Each narrator is different.  Damasaya is young and unsure of her future as she is afraid of who she is while Syenite is the opposite.  She knows exactly who she is and how good she is.  She is confident in who she is and ambitious to boot. Essun is definitely a woman who has seen and knows way too much.  She is strong but even the strongest of us breaks.  When her husband kills her son and possibly her daughter she is at a loss.  Soon revenge becomes her only motivating factor.  Essun’s story is also effected by the beginning of the Fifth Season. Every so often the Earth turns against the people and sets off catastrophic natural disasters.  Some season’s last years while some last decades. It’s clear to Essun that this season is going to last centuries.  So she sets off to find her husband while knowing the world is ending soon.  Syenite and Damasaya are not experience the same end of the world troubles that Essun is and at first this was confusing since both were headed towards or living where the disaster had occurred.  This was what made me think that the narratives were not all happening at the same time.  The narrators do not seem to have much in common beyond they are all women and orogenes but it when it’s revealed what there relationship it was a gut punch.  I didn’t see it coming.  I think that  is because it’s so well written.  You could literally get lost in the writing as N.K. tells these women’s stories.  They all have such hard struggles as they live and work in a very rigid society.  People of this world are separated into different Comm names and it defines who they are what they do. If you don’t fit in a Comm you are in trouble when the seasons come. They all must try to do their best to find their own voice while still playing by the rules and of course there are far more rules for women.  So even though it’s a fantasy novel, it’s still very much set in real life too.

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

first-grave I knew this before but my Mom has good taste because this book was delightful.  Charley Davidson is not just a Private Investigator, she’s also a Grim Reaper.  Sorry, not just a Grim Reaper, she’s THE Grim Reaper.  Which isn’t such a terrible job one might imagine. She just helps the departed cross over to the other side.  Also being the Grim Reaper and a PI, she is also her detective uncle’s secret weapon when it comes to solving crimes since she can see the dead and you know, ask them who killed them.  It sort of cheating but whatever.  When we meet Charley, she’s been called by her Uncle Bob to help her with a new homicide.  It soon develops into more then just a simple triple homicide but something all together.  Too complicate things even more, Charley has been having these super realistic dreams that may not be something more supernatural.  Charley now in a race of time to solve a mysterious deaths of her dead clients, figure out her dreams and stop people from trying to kill her over and over again.  Charley is smart, funny and sarcastic. My kind of person.  The cast of characters are fun and fill out the story but Charley is the real star of the story. She is strong and independent but still carries the scars of years people thinking she was crazy but it doesn’t stop her from keep trying to help people, dead or alive.  There is one case in here that is truly sad and heartbreaking and you really feel for not only Charley who truly felt she was helping but for her client as well.  Sadly, just like in real life not everything turns out the way we want them too.  That said, I’m really looking forward to the next book. If anyone is on the fence about this one, I say just jump in! Especially fans of Sookie Stackhouse.  There may not be Vampires, Werewolves and such but fill of supernatural beings, colorful cast of characters and wonderful female protagonist.